Dion and the Belmonts was a leading American vocal group of the late 1950s. The group formed when Dion DiMucci, lead singer, (b. July 18, 1939), joined The Belmonts – Carlo Mastrangelo, baritone, (b. October 5, 1938), Freddie Milano, second tenor, (born August 22, 1939), and Angelo D’Aleo, first tenor,(born February 3, 1940) in late 1957.
After an unsuccessful first single, the group was signed to Laurie Records. Their breakthrough came when “I Wonder Why” made #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the group appeared for the first time on American Bandstand. They followed it with the ballads “No One Knows” (#19) and “Don’t Pity Me” (#40).
This success won Dion and the Belmonts their first major tour in late 1958, with The Coasters, Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin, and this was followed up by the “Winter Dance Party” tour with Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. On 2 February 1959, after playing at the Surf Ballroom, Dion decided that he could not afford the $36 cost of a flight to the next venue. The plane crashed; Holly, Valens, The Big Bopper, and the pilot were killed on 3 February 1959, shortly after midnight. However, the tour continued, with Jimmy Clanton and Bobby Vee being added to the bill as replacements.
In March 1959, Dion and the Belmonts’ next single, “A Teenager in Love”, was released, making #5 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #28 in the UK Singles Chart, and this was followed by an album, Presenting Dion and the Belmonts. Their biggest hit, “Where or When”, was released in November 1959, and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, in early 1960, Dion checked into a hospital for heroin addiction, a problem he had had since his mid-teens. Other singles released for the group that year were less successful. In addition, there were musical and financial disputes between Dion and members of the Belmonts. In October 1960, Dion decided to quit for a solo career. The Belmonts also continued to release records, but with less success.
Dion and the Belmonts reunited in 1966 for the unsuccessful album Together Again on ABC Records, and again in 1972 for a one-off show at Madison Square Garden, recorded and released as a live album.
In 2000 Dion and the Belmonts were inducted in The Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
In the early 1970’s there was a renewed interest in America for oldies music from the 1950’s. You can thank “American Graffiti” and the TV show “Happy Days” for helping the revival thrive. And with this increased interest came a desire for fans from the sock hop era to see their heroes in concert one more time and for new fans to discover what all of the fuss was about. Soon, a series of “rock and roll revival” concerts was held at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in 1972 and 1973 with A-list pop music stars, vocal groups and teen idols from the 50’s and early 60’s sharing the bill. Fans loved it.
Of course, legends like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Rick Nelson, Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, and Bo Diddley had never stopped performing once they hit it big, and were huge draws for the revival shows they appeared at, but groups like Danny and the Juniors, Bill Haley and his Comets and The Shirelles, among others had to be coaxed out of retirement. One of these concerts was filmed and released theatrically by Columbia Pictures (1973’s “Let The Good Times Roll”). Nelson later sung about his not-so-positive experience at one such “Garden Party.”
But one major act from the bygone era held out. Dion & The Belmonts refused all overtures to reunite. The legendary Bronx, New York-based vocal group had earned a reputation not only for topping the charts but for creating some of the most vital and exciting doo-wop music on the American scene. With songs such as “I Wonder Why,” “A Teenager In Love” and “Where or When,” Dion and The Belmonts earned their place in the history books, while the group’s pioneering role in the development of rock ‘n’ roll underscored their enduring accomplishments. They toured extensively and were co-headliners on the ill-fated Winter Dance Party in 1959, the tour that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper. Lead singer Dion DiMucci was, in fact, offered a seat on the plane that went down “the day the music died” but declined.
By 1960 Dion and the Belmonts had enjoyed Top 40 success with seven singles, and then Dimucci went solo. In all Dion claimed 13 Top 40 hits as a solo performer, and in his career (solo and with the Belmonts) had 11 songs in the Top 10.
With the arrival in the U.S. of The Beatles in early 1964 musical tastes changed almost overnight and Dion and his contemporaries were out of work.
In the late spring of 1972, after numerous invitations to appear, the elusive Dion DiMucci finally agreed to reunite with the original members of the Belmonts in a one-off performance as part of a rock and roll revival show to be held at Madison Square Garden. They had not performed on stage together in 12 years. The date was June 2, 1972. The arena was sold out and the atmosphere was electric. For this magical night Billy Vera and his band would be the backing band. “It was like an earthquake. You could literally feel the stage shake.” – Billy Vera.
Originally released by Warner Bros (catalog # 2664) in December 1972.
CD issued by Rhino in 1989.
1. I Wonder Why
2. A Teenager in Love
3. The Wanderer
4. No One Knows
5. Ruby Baby
6. Drip Drop
7. That’s My Desire
8. Where or When
9. Runaround Sue
10. Little Diane
Link do Arquivo